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Caryn James

Review: Worst. Emmys. Ever? (UPDATED with Video)

  • By Caryn James
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  • September 19, 2011 3:32 AM
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  • 15 Comments
By my count there were about five entertaining minutes out of three hours on last night’s Emmy show. I admit, I’m math challenged so I may be off by a minute or two, but I promise, no more than that.
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Review: More From Anderson Cooper's First Show (Video)

  • By Caryn James
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  • September 12, 2011 10:21 AM
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  • 0 Comments
There were a couple of things on Anderson Cooper’s new talk show that you wouldn’t have seen on CNN:
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Doug Liman Directs MTV's New Series "I Just Want My Pants Back"

  • By Caryn James
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  • August 29, 2011 12:55 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Like a lot of big-name film directors, Doug Liman executive produces TV series (one day he’s directing Sean Penn in Fair Game, the next it’s the USA network’s Covert Affairs) and occasionally directs a pilot. His latest is MTV's I Just Want My Pants Back, one more story about a post-college hero searching for sex, a better job and a life; it’s the kind of material that better arrive looking stylish and fresh or it’s dead.
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Dominic West and Romola Garai in the Swirling Journalism Drama "The Hour"

  • By Caryn James
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  • August 23, 2011 2:35 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Straight from the era of Good Night and Good Luck, BBC America’s absorbing series The Hour adds spies and romance to its glamorized, nostalgic look at what now counts as old-timey television journalism, with truth-seeking reporters battling timid network chiefs, women producers battling sexism, everyone drinking and smoking day and night. This swirling drama - impeccably cast with Romola Garai, Ben Whishaw and Dominic West – is a greatly entertaining soap opera with an undertone of serious commentary (much like TV journalism today).
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Forest Whitaker Narrates "Serving Life," Affecting New Prison Doc on Oprah Winfrey Network

  • By Caryn James
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  • July 27, 2011 4:00 AM
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  • 9 Comments
Serving Life plays like the flip side of the brutal prison drama Oz. This narrowly focused yet affecting documentary, set in a hospice in the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, follows prisoners who volunteer to help other prisoners at the end of their lives.
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Lisa Kudrow’s Brilliant "Web Therapy" on Showtime: Bigger, Longer, Should Have Been Cut

  • By Caryn James
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  • July 19, 2011 5:00 AM
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  • 0 Comments
This is therapy as it ought to be: three minutes long, by web-cam so you don’t have to leave your house, dispensing with all that dead-end foolishness about “dreams and feelings.” Voila. You have what Fiona Wallice (created to perfection by Lisa Kudrow) calls in her mincingly precise voice “a new treatment modality.” If only it worked.
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How To Catch Up With "Breaking Bad" (It's Easy!)

  • By Caryn James
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  • July 15, 2011 5:00 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Sympathetic criminals may be the perfect dramatic characters: we like them and want them to survive; they let us live out our most dangerous, secret impulses vicariously; and when we're ready to get thoughtful, they're an endless source of knotty moral problems. We're still liking and worrying about Tony Soprano years after his screen went dark.
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For Afghanistan’s Women, The Ordinary Is Outlawed: “Love Crimes of Kabul”

  • By Caryn James
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  • July 11, 2011 1:00 AM
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  • 1 Comment
The typical documentary about women in Islamic countries has a predictable theme: misogynistic government represses women for behavior we in the West consider innocent. On the surface, Love Crimes of Kabul (premiering on HBO tonight), about women in Afghan prisons for the “crimes” of pre-marital sex or running away from home, follows that familiar, tragic pattern.
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Curb Your Enthusiasm: Larry David Tackles NY, Baseball, The Middle East

  • By Caryn James
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  • July 10, 2011 1:00 AM
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  • 3 Comments
True confession: I have never been a knee-jerk fan of Curb Your Enthusiasm or for that matter Seinfeld, which Larry David helped created. The crotchety version of himself that David plays on his endlessly praised series too often veers from “annoying to the characters around him but amusing to us,” (and isn’t that just a way of flattering the audience?) to flat out annoying. The too-cute zippy Italian circus music that is the series’ theme makes me hit “mute” and even the nickname “Curb” gets on my nerves (but that’s not David’s fault). Seinfeld has a more affable, like-me, puppy-dog surface, but at their cores both shows exude a smugness about how cleverly they notice the minute, absurd details of life. I don’t hate these series, and I'm not acting cranky to be like Larry; their usual episodes just leave me cold.
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An American Family Anniversary Edition: Short, Still Not Sweet

  • By Caryn James
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  • July 7, 2011 1:00 AM
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  • 0 Comments
A colorful 70's time capsule and an immersion into the beginnings of reality television, the groundbreaking doc An American Family still grabs our attention today. But let's face it, the 12-hour version is a lot of Louds, even though suburban couple Bill and Pat Loud dealing with their five children and breaking up their marriage on camera quickly draws you in and keeps you around for more. The 2-hour version being shown on PBS tonight (and channel 13 in New York tomorrow) is just as gripping an alternative.
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